Gros Islet’s Famous Jump Up

A Friday night in St. Lucia is not complete without making an appearance at Gros Islet’s jump-up, the street party that has made this town famous. Once the sun sets, the town locals and all the tourists flock to the streets to celebrate another week done and another weekend beginning. Our local host, Noa, and her friend Steve had been talking about the party all week and were eager to show us a good time. Sections of town are closed off to vehicles, allowing people to eat, drink, dance and party in the streets all night long.

After stopping at the fish fry down the road for some food and Piton beer, we made our way to where the party happened, being enveloped in the loud reggae music coming from the speakers. There are a few spots on the street, each playing different versions of soca, dancehall and reggae music. Drinks in hand, we followed our ears to the sound of familiar soca beats in the center of the street and suddenly we were surrounded by more white people than I’d seen in four months.





The street party is well-advertised to tourists. Almost everyone that we met on the beach or on the street leading up to the party was sure to mention it, getting promises from us that we would be there. So we were, and so was every other tourist in the Gros Islet area. The tourists made up the majority of the dancing until after 11pm, when tourists dwindled away and the locals moved in. After 11pm is when things get really good, with St. Lucians showing what their mamas gave them. The music got louder and the dancing never stopped, with a few talented young men busting out some choreography in the center of it all.

Rum punch is available at every corner and for those with a hungry tummy, there’s street vendors selling bbq food. If your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you like art as a souvenir, there’s quite a good guy selling handmade wood carvings and paintings just up the road. Typical me has lost his business card again but if I find the name, I’ll put it here! In the meantime, that’s him in the photo above.

If you’re looking for a unique St. Lucian experience and a great way to interact with the locals, make sure you end up at the jump-up on Friday night.


Barbados on a Budget

Barbados is known for its white sandy beaches and being the birthplace of Rihanna. What it’s not known for is it’s affordability. The Caribbean isn’t a popular place for those on a backpacker budget, as many are drawn to the extreme budget prices seen in Southeast Asia or South America, but the Caribbean is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world and shouldn’t be missed just because it seems a little pricy. Here are some traveler tips to make the most of your time in Barbados without breaking the bank:

1. Shop Local

Food prices in the supermarkets can be extremely expensive. It’s best to shop locally as much as possible. Cheapside Market in Bridgetown is where I have found the most affordable local produce. Be sure to ask around about prices, as they will vary vendor to vendor. You’ll soon learn who sells at the cheapest price. You can also pick up cartons of fresh coconut water for $12 BBD, roughly $6 US. Saturday morning is the best time to go, with all the vendors out and piles and piled of produce for you to choose from.

2. Rent a House

All-inclusive resort prices in Barbados can be nearly double what you would pay for a week vacation in Mexico. Get the most for your money (and stay a little longer!) by renting a private residence with a couple of friends for a month. This can easily be done for $400 per person, making your stay just over $12 a night. Your place might even have a pool, gazebo, and mango trees! If you don’t have a month to stay, there are some hostels and budget guesthouses on the island, mostly on the South Coast and starting from $18US per night.

3. Barbados National Trust Hikes

There’s plenty of over priced tours in Barbados, but not everything costs money! Barbados National Trust takes locals and tourists alike out to different parts of the island every Sunday. The hike is free of charge, although small donations are accepted. They say that if you go on the hike every Sunday for a year, you will have hiked the whole island. Barbados National Trust holds three hikes every Sunday, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Hikes last about 3 hours with an average of 7 – 10 miles covered.

4. Hit the Beach!

Barbados is full of beautiful beaches that stretch around the island. The West and South coast beaches are most popular due to the calm, swim friendly waters of the Caribbean Sea. Head to the North and East coast for the rugged beauty of the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Every beach in Barbados is public, free of charge, even if it backs off of the fancy hotels. Brownes Beach, Pebbles Beach, Accra, Batts Rock, Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane, Dover, the options are endless. You can find everything from nearly empty beaches with nothing but sand to beaches filled with people, sunbeds, umbrellas, etc.

5. Take the Public Transportation


If you plan to take a taxi everywhere, good luck. You can get anywhere on the island for as little as $2 BBD. You have three options when it comes to public transportation: the big, blue, government-regulated buses, the privately owned yellow bus, or the ZR vans. Each one is $2 one way, no matter how far of a ride you have ahead of you, so don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Each option is an extremely different experience, with my personal favorite being the ZR. In a van that sits about 12 comfortably, the drivers will often squish in at least 18, with the most I’ve seen being 22 people, crammed in for a speedy ride with loud music. If personal space is your thing, this might not be the option for you, but it’s definitely an experience that should be had. And here’s a fun game for you: can you find the #3 ZR with the handcuffs and condoms hanging from the rear view mirror?

6. Drink Local

Forget the fancy drinks, Barbados is all about the rum, with the local rum being Mount Gay. Rum shacks can be spotted all over the island, with many selling rum by the shot or the glass for cheap prices. If you’re out on St. Lawrence Gap, the Old Jamm Inn offers 2-for-1 rums for $8 BDD. If you’re looking for something else, the local Banks beer can often be found for 4 for $10 BDD.

7. Eat out at Oistins Fish Fry

A Friday night at Oistins is a must for travelers experiencing the island. You can get a huge meal with a meat or seafood and two sides of your choice (often macaroni pie, rice and beans, breadfruit, salad, etc.). Loud music, good company and Bajan food makes for a good evening out that won’t leave your wallet hurting in the morning… unless you get carried away with the rum punch.


Take a Stroll Through Batts Rock

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the
imagination and brings eternal
joy to the soul.”
– Wyland

Just a short stroll away from my dorm is a white, sandy beach with turquoise waters kissing the sand. It’s a popular place for snorkeling and picnics but is never too crowded and it’s quickly becoming my go-to spot to relax after a hard day at work. I don’t believe I can do it justice through my words, so put on your flip-flops and take a walk along the sand for yourself.


Exploring Grotto Canyon

With the crisp winter chill in the air and impending snow on the horizon, I’ve been reminiscing about warm summer days and breezy autumn afternoons – an afternoon hike in particular. Like any well organized individual, I had a summer bucket list. Hiking was the last remaining and after my recent hike in the mountains I was finally able to cross that off the list as well (even if it is technically not summer anymore).

I tagged along with my roommate on a recent Saturday morning and after throwing on our hiking clothes and grabbing bottles of water, we took off down the highway to a spot surrounded by the mountains. Taking us just about an hour and a half to complete, this was a pretty easy hike that is also suitable for families wanting to take their children along. Parking is available at the start of the trail at Grotto Pond; washrooms available as well (after just over an hour’s drive and a lot of tea drinking on the way, this was a glorious discovery. No squatting in the bush for us that day!)

After navigating through the trees and up a few inclines, we reached the canyon. From there on out it involved a combination of hopping over the streams, going from boulder to boulder, and most of the walking is on loose stones.

grotto creek trail

Grotto Pond

Grotto Pond1

The canyon walls tower above as you make your way through. If you’re a rock or ice-climbing enthusiast, this is a popular place to do both of these depending on the season. Another unique part of this particular hike is the Indigenous pictographs that can still be seen on one of the canyon walls. Pictographs of people and animals can be clearly seen if you know where to look (a mother-daughter team pointed them out to us) and are said to be between 500-1000 years old. You can make out the images in red below, what looks like a canoe in the top photo and 3-4 people in the bottom photo.

pictograph of a canoe

pictograph of people

The end of the hike is marked by a little waterfall running down from the top of the canyon walls. You can choose to climb up the rocks near the top of the waterfall or you can just admire it from the base before turning around and making your way back the way you came. The waterfall is also a good place to take a rest and have a little picnic! However, if you want to keep going the canyon does continue on to the left. We chose to end it at the waterfall but I would definitely go back and continue on my way.

grotto falls

grotto falls1

Grotto Canyon proved to be a fun little outing on a warm autumn day and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and feeling so at ease after clearing our minds and connecting with nature. I would say that the only off-putting thing about this hike is that the start is located right next to the Baymag plant, which processes magnesium-carbonate. It’s not really a sight you want to be seeing when you want to be surrounded by nature and in the fresh air. All in all, this is an easy 4km hike to do, doesn’t take too much time, and has some nice views. If you plan on taking the trails during the winter months, please be aware that the canyon will be covered in a thick layer of ice and snow and it is highly recommended that you wear adequate footwear to prevent slipping.



A Dip Into The Sorgeto Hot Springs

This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about Ischia. As mentioned in that previous post, Ischia was where I first had the opportunity to soak myself in a volcanic hot spring. Earlier that evening, seven of us crammed ourselves into a tiny mini van that managed to squeeze itself at a ridiculously fast pace in and out of the narrow alleys.

After a huge Italian meal with new friends, we all made our way to Sorgeto Bay at the suggestion of our hostel staff. To reach the beach itself, you need to walk down about 200 steep, stone steps. If you are coming with somebody who cannot make the trek up or down these steps, you can also reach the springs by water taxi during the day.

sorgetohotsprings (photo by traveldudes)

The Sorgeto Springs are comprised of a number of different thermal pools, each one fluctuating in water temperature due to the natural heating of Ischia’s volcanic activity. Once we had stripped down to our bathing suits, we tiptoed carefully into the water, the smooth stones of the hot spring floor slippery beneath our feet. Luckily for us, we had the entire springs to ourselves and, at 2AM, the water is still comfortingly warm, with the odd areas of cold and scorching hot. If you come during the day, be sure to note the signs warning you where not to venture because some areas of the spring are inaccessible due to the overwhelming temperatures. It’s been said that some people even bring eggs to boil in the hottest areas of the springs!

If you’re seeking a luxurious, spa-like activity, these thermal springs should be at the top of your list. Oh, but there’s one more little tidbit of information that will give you no excuse to miss out — access to the springs is free! So even if you are a penny-pinching backpacker, you can still take advantage of what the springs have to offer. If you ever find yourself on the island, I would highly recommend stopping in to the Sorgeto Hot Springs. I can’t say personally what it is like in the daytime, but I know very well the beauty and fun to be had in the late hours of the night (preferably with some wine!).